The Department of Defense is threatening the Oklahoma National Guard with drastic action over the state’s rejection of the Biden administration’s federal vaccine mandates.
The Voice of America’s Pentagon correspondent reported that: “Defense official reportedly says, if the Oklahoma National Guard doesn’t comply with COVID vaccine requirements, they will no longer be ‘maintaining national recognition,’ thus, state will no longer have a Nat[ional] Guard, but rather a militia.”
This represents a dangerous escalation for a federal government that is pressing confrontation with state governments. On Monday, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby insisted that the national guard units follow the Pentagon’s orders or face serious consequences.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin “has the authorities he needs to require this vaccine across the force, including the National Guard,” Kirby told reporters.
“It is a lawful order for National Guardsmen to receive the COVID vaccine. It is a lawful order,” Kirby added. “Refusing to do that, absent an approved exemption, puts them in the same potential [for punishment] as active-duty members who refuse the vaccine.”
The Pentagon responded to the Oklahoma National Guard unit that is refusing to enforce the Covid vaccine mandate. On late Saturday, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby cautiously addressed the explosive development.
“We are aware of the memo issued by the Oklahoma Adjutant General regarding COVID vaccination for Guardsmen and the governor’s letter requesting exemption. We will respond to the governor appropriately,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.
Kirby stated that Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin “believes that a vaccinated force is a more ready force,” and that is “why he has ordered mandatory vaccines for the total force, and that includes our National Guard, who contribute significantly to national missions at home and abroad.”
As reported earlier, the Oklahoma National Guard unit has made itself clear to the Department of Defense it has no intention of enforcing its Covid-19 vaccine mandate. The commanding officers are allowing the troops to opt out of the requirement, in accordance with the governor’s mandate.
“The Oklahoma National Guard has rejected the Defense Department’s requirement for all service members to receive the coronavirus vaccine and will allow personnel to sidestep the policy with no repercussions, a potential blueprint for Republican governors who have challenged Biden administration mandates,” the Washington Post reported.
“Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino, appointed this week by Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) as adjutant of the state’s 10,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen, on Thursday notified those under his command that they are not required to receive the vaccine and won’t be punished if they decline it,” the report added.
“It’s an extraordinary refusal of Pentagon policy and follows Stitt’s written request to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin seeking suspension of the requirement for Guard personnel in the state,” the report noted.
The Washington Post provided background on the National Guard’s action, which opens up another path of resistance to the unlawful Covid-19 vaccine mandates.
“Overall Republican resistance to vaccine mandates has intensified in recent weeks, with multiple GOP governors filing suit to stop the requirement for federal contractors and a Friday court ruling temporarily halting the administration’s directive that private businesses employing more than 100 workers require inoculation or impose onerous testing guidelines,” the Post states. “Oklahoma’s objection to the Pentagon’s directive would appear to open another pathway for states to challenge the president’s orders.”
In August, the Pentagon issued an order for all U.S. military troops to receive the Covid-19 vaccination. Military troops must ‘immediately begin to get the COVID-19 vaccine,’ Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in the memo and ordered service leaders to ‘impose ambitious timelines for implementation.’
The Department of Defense has subsequently faced numerous lawsuits over the order, including class action lawsuits from the members of all five military branches. The Biden administration’s federal vaccine mandate issued by OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard has been getting battered in the federal courts. OSHA has since announced that the vaccine mandate’s enforcement is suspended pending further notice.